to develop myself. how can i "develop myself?" the phrase from the dalai lama's well-known affirmation suggests that we each have a responsibility for our own growth, our mental, our spiritual, and our physical development. the task belongs to no one else, not God, our parents, our spouse, our friends, or our teachers--it is our own to do or to neglect.
so, how do i live up to this great work that is mine alone? what are the ways in which i develop myself? first, each day ought to begin with a refocusing on the need to live mindfully. i must resolve at the beginning of each day to refuse to stumble blindly through the tasks of the day as if they are meaningless chores. when i do a simple job like feeding our many pets (maybe too many, but that's another topic altogether), am i conscious of the benefit of my work to these lovely beings and to myself, or am i unaware of what i'm contributing to the good of the world? when i prepare breakfast, am i mindful of the joy i bring to my partner and myself and the nourishment to our bodies that healthy food brings? do i stop to realize the how and why of the onerous tasks that must be done? so, living as mindfully as i can is a part of developing myself, and the act of awareness of how mindfulness contributes to my development is the start.
second, i need to seek the wisdom of others who are on the path of developing themselves. their willingness to share what they learn is a way in which they develop themselves, reaching out in lovingkindness to others on the same path. each day, i must read about what these explorers are discovering. each day, i must spend time listening to what others are saying and learn from them. we learn even from those who oppose us and put obstacles in our way. again, mindfulness as i read and listen are essential. so is a sense of gratitude for these others who give of themselves in the process of their own development.
third, it is part of my becoming to share what my journey along the path is teaching me. that is the reason for this blog. in the process of writing about my stumbling and bumbling, i grow and perhaps i help others to grow. i am suspicious of those who communicate as if they have the answers, who write or speak with a self-assurance that suggests that theirs is the right way and others who deviate must be wrong. i pray that i never come across that way. we can't make it over the obstacles if we don't lean on each other, give each other a gentle push now and then, pull each other along. the solution, perhaps, is to hike along together, rather than making our goal to find the end of the pathway.
finally, implicit in every facet of this use of our energies is a gratefulness that there are tasks to be done mindfully, there is learning to be explored, there is growth to be shared. to be grateful that there are mundane jobs that must be done is a way of thanking the universe for our existence; in this gratitude we participate in the love that is a part of all creation. to be grateful to those from whom we learn is a way of expressing joyful appreciation for their contributions to our own progress and to celebrate their progress. to be grateful for our own movement along the path motivates us to share what we experience with others and to articulate a basis for comparison of what we have in common with others.
to develop oneself is not a lonely, self-centered process. it requires mindful awareness to all around us: to the sounds, the sensation of touch, the voices of others. it is a shared journey that enables us to experience our kinship with all sentient beings. may we support each other along the path, learning from our own mistakes and discoveries and from those of others. may we give of our own energies when others lag and lean on others when our own energy fails. shalom.